As the year comes to an end, Business Brief asked Digital Jersey CEO Tony Moretta how efforts to attract digital business and entrepreneurs had gone during 2018.
I’m often asked for tangible examples of how Digital Jersey is helping to grow Jersey’s economy. A number of schemes we’ve been working really hard to develop this year are bearing fruit which helps me offer real-life stories.
This year, our new start-up scheme, which identifies companies on the brink of greatness and works to help them relocate to Jersey, has supported 20 entrepreneurs to do just that. They, in turn, are on track to create 74 new digital jobs in the Island over the next three years.
Among them are a fintech company from Hong Kong and a legal platform from Scotland. There’s are digital health and edtech businesses, a crypto-currency exchange and a number of creative agencies.
Our job is to remove the barriers to entry so that Jersey can reap the benefits of their success. Growing businesses employing people on good salaries is good for the economy. Those digital skills add value to the workforce, and in turn will spur new start-ups in future. It really is about good breeding good.
One of the people we helped was a PhD graduate who was originally from Jersey. He graduated at Oxford and set up a biotech chip company with two friends from Eastern Europe. It’s early days for them so the income they’re generating right now is low. Making the move to Jersey themselves would have been tough given the population restrictions but with our support, Jersey now has three immensely intelligent entrepreneurs working in a market which could be huge, and will do wonders for our reputation.
There’s also our work permissions scheme which helps existing on-island companies bring in highly skilled individuals, usually on high-paying salaries, when there isn’t anybody locally who is suitably qualified.
We’ve supported businesses who’ve brought in 19 such people this year, so far. The companies, in turn, are expected to create at least the same number of jobs for locally entitled people over the next 12 months.
Yes, we’re working hard with government and industry to boost the skills of Jersey’s workforce, but we need this kind of talent here today if we’re to remain on the front foot with our digital ambitions. It’s about acknowledging and responding to the needs of today while anticipating the potential problems of tomorrow and coming up with plans to solve them before they happen.
Contrary to popular perception, it’s not easy for firms to get work permissions from the Population Office when trying to bring in staff from elsewhere, and this is where we can help. We help these companies make their pitches in the right way and can act as a trusted agent to remove the barriers.
From big telecoms companies looking for software developers through to smaller agencies looking for those with the right creative skills, we help those firms bring in the right people with the right skills who, in turn, are here and spending in the local economy.
As the year ends, it’s a good time for me to take stock of the range and breadth of people and businesses considering Jersey. It’s a constant joy for me, as are the reasons for moving.
We’ve had a fintech company move its payroll platform to the Island because the cost of moving money is much less than where they were previously based. Add to that their need for an English speaking jurisdiction and a timezone that works for the whole of Europe, and Jersey just makes sense for them.
There is also a tax advantage for companies offering non-automated digital services. They’re taxed at source so Jersey’s 5% goods and services tax compares more than favourably with the 20% in the UK and parts of Europe. Cost is often the number one concern for businesses and, while staffing costs may be higher in the Island, the broader tax environment matters as well.
We really are playing to our advantages right now, and with our current efforts to upskill Jersey’s workforce to match the needs of an increasingly digital economy, the businesses making the move to the Island are increasingly able to employ locally, too.
As they succeed, we all succeed.
Read the full December edition of Business Brief here.